Mitsubishi Motors shareholders approve ouster of Ghosn
Ghosn was arrested on financial misconduct charges last year
TOKYO – Mitsubishi Motors Corp. shareholders approved on Friday the ouster of Carlos Ghosn, who was pivotal in the Japanese automaker’s three-way partnership with Nissan and Renault until he was arrested on financial misconduct charges last year.
The vote took place in a 2-hour general meeting of shareholders at a Tokyo hotel. Nissan Motor Co. owns 34% of Mitsubishi Motors.
Osamu Masuko, who was reappointed chairman, promised to strengthen governance and transparency and monitor wrongdoing. More outsiders will check executive appointments and compensation, he said.
Nissan shareholders held an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting in April to oust Ghosn as chairman. He resigned from French alliance partner Renault SA.
The Mitsubishi shareholders also approved the appointment of Renault’s chairman Jean-Dominique Senard to replace Ghosn. Renault owns 43% of Nissan.
Nissan, based in the port city of Yokohama, is holding a general shareholders’ meeting next week to approve other measures, including setting up committees to strengthen governance.
Nissan said late Thursday two Renault executives will be on the committees. Renault earlier said it would abstain in that vote, and the greater representation promised on the committees may gain Renault’s approval.
Renault said in a statement that it welcomed Nissan’s decision but did not say how it planned to vote.
“The agreement reached on Renault’s presence in Nissan’s new governance confirms the spirit of dialogue and mutual respect that exists within the alliance,” it said.
Some analysts suggest a deepening rift between Renault and Nissan after a planned merger between Renault and Fiat Chrysler fell through earlier this month. Nissan expressed reservations about immediately joining the merger.
Masuko told shareholders the auto industry faced challenges because of the costs of advancements such as emissions standards and self-driving technology.
He said the Tokyo-based automaker will pursue focus over expansion, repeatedly highlighting the company motto “small but beautiful.” He also stressed the importance of auto alliances.
“We want to be a profitable company even if smaller in scale,” he told shareholders.
One Mitsubishi Motors shareholder expressed anger over the Ghosn scandal. But most of the questions were about new models and market strategy.
Ghosn, who led Nissan for two decades, saving it from near-bankruptcy, had served as chairman at Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi, and was long a revered figure in the industry.
He has been charged with falsifying financial reports in underreporting retirement compensation and with breach of trust in having Nissan shoulder investment losses and in diverting Nissan money for personal gain.
Ghosn says he is innocent.